Opinion: A 'Hollywood' tribal ceremony at sacred site

"On Ground Hog Day, Feb. 2, in the town of Mashpee, Mass., U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met in the pre-dawn hours with the Wampanoag Indian tribe.

Salazar was investigating the world-famous Cape Wind offshore wind project. After a brief office meeting, he and tribal members drove to a private resort beach, lined with large summer homes, overlooking Nantucket Sound, the proposed wind-farm site.

Some of the entourage stood on the deck of the resort’s restaurant, but Salazar, dressed in well-shined cowboy boots, lightly worn blue jeans and a very battered cowboy hat, walked with the Wampanoags’ George “Chuckie” Green and about 10 others to the water’s edge.

There Green, dressed in typical New England gear of a winter parka and warm pants, performed a ceremony that, he says, has been performed there for thousands of years.

The sun was showing off that morning. As the red disk rose over the Atlantic horizon, pillows of passing clouds threw off golden rays. A column of sunlight reflecting off the water looked like a glimmering pathway leading from the beach to far-distant celestial spheres.

Hollywood couldn’t have done it better.

Green hunkered down. He sprinkled grains of something — Green is very private about the ceremonial specifics — into the water.

After a few minutes, the group trudged back up the winter beach.

The event was unique: the cowboy-hatted interior secretary standing in the winter chill to watch the sun rise with a group of American Indians on, of all places, a Cape Cod beach."

Get the Story:
Wendy Williams: Wampanoags’ ‘Traditional Cultural Properties’ (The Providence Journal 2/16)

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